A majority of the travel blogs and instagrams seem to paint a picture of perfect trips and a life of ease. In reality, as we travel the horrors of the world do not stop. Family and friends continue to face unthinkable tragedy and suffering. When we do check in on world events, we inevitably find that greed remains the motivating factor instead of compassion and the desire to care for others. Worldwide there is senseless suffering. Self-serving behavior is pervasive. With 45 at the helm in the US, it seems more people believe this type of behavior is acceptable.
As we travel through the national parks, people boldly demonstrate their sense of entitlement. It is hard to believe that even with gorgeous canyons and stunning views all around them, they honk at each other, aggressively pass on narrow roads, and flip each other off. Their behavior screams that they believe they are the most important and must be “first”. Even absorbing natural beauty is a competition. Who saw the most? Who got the best selfie? In reality, they barely see anything because everything is flying by so quickly. Even out here among some of the most beautiful places on earth, many people do not suppress their bad behavior, demonstrate patience or kindness.
I am challenged. I am often horrified by the way people act within these parks. The complete disregard for nature and of others pulls my mind away from the beauty in front of me and back to the needless suffering all over the world. I am painfully aware of the plight of the people of Puerto Rico, Mexico City, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and Indigenous people most everywhere… I see racism in the US bubbling up from the filthy slimy underground into the open – on our streets and campuses and in our police forces. Humans believing they have the right to choose when someone else’s life should end. Countless senseless murders. Every day there is more horror. I am overwhelmed by the suffering.
I pull myself back into the moment. Be here now, I tell myself. I look up at the sky. I slow down. I focus on the smallest detail of the flower or cliff right in front of me. I give myself permission to feel joy. There is so much work to be done. I will continue to fight to try to make the world a better place. I will try my best to at the very least cause no harm. But right now, I will allow myself to experience peace and beauty. The systemic injustice that is so pervasive cannot be solved instantly. We must rise and resist. We must also rest and heal.
I admit at times I feel guilty for this privilege of travel, of being surrounded by beauty when others continue to suffer. Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed unimaginable beautiful wide open spaces. We had the great fortune of seeing California Condors, Big Horn Sheep, Wild Horses, Wild Burros and countless Pronghorns. While this was happening some close to us are suffering. I cannot fix it but I will hold space for them and give comfort, however, I can. I also know that in time the suffering will again be mine. I must allow the moments of joy when they come. So tonight instead of focusing on the horrors of humanity, I will just be right here in the high desert where the coyotes howl under the endless sky. And tomorrow, I will face what comes…